Who We Are

Aidan Lawrence

"I grew up in Natures Valley at the Garden Route, and in Cape Town. I have always been an individualist, did my own thing without minding what anyone else thought, and went to 9 different schools - the last of which I founded myself, to suit my needs.

In terms of education I did a bit of this and that, ran my own website design business for a while, studied clothing design for a year and sewed clothes for a while (like custom made prom dresses), and eventually went back to my parents' farm in Natures Valley, where I started a backpackers. Wild Tongue Backpackers was a great success and operated for three years, but after a while I got tired of the whole affairs and was looking for new opportunities again. During my involvement with backpacking I had visited Bulungula Backpackers at the Wild Coast, and I had been taken by the serene beauty of that place. So I decided this is where I wanted to go to start afresh.

It was during that time when I was preparing to move to the Wild Coast and start a community development project that I met Rahel. She decided to tag along and I was glad to have a companion to start the next project with. It was a time of trial and error, and we lived in a tree house that we built ourselves while working with the community at Manzamnyama. A year later - when we had already realized that the project was not going to work - I stumbled across the house in Lubanzi and decided to buy it. Rahel had been longing to have our own business and the site was ideal for a backpackers, so that's what we decided to do."

skiing in Switzerlandriding in Braziltravelling through Morocco
Aidan building a driftwood fenceAidan & Rahelbuilding a door frame for the pre school

"I like the simplicity and sincerity of a life out here at the Wild Coast. So much can still be achived, there is so much space for creation. That is what I am, a creator: of art, of space, of life (food gardens), of many things. In my mind I am constantly working out how things could be improved, and I love being able to put this into practice. Lubanzi has become my home, and I will be happy to raise my children here, with the protection and support of the people of Lubanzi."

Rahel Heiri

"I grew up in Switzerland, went to school there and completed a 3-year training for office work. During my youth all I ever wanted was to go travel and experience something different. In 2001, I set out for my first big trip around South America. I worked 3 months in a children's daycare in Argentina and learnt Spanish, then I travelled through Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru for 7 months. Returning to Switzerland and to a normal work-life was hard, and I didn't last long. After only 6 months I packed my bags again and in April 2004 I left for Guatemala, where I completed a 1 month meditation course. Then I travelled all accross Central and South America in a big loop and ended up in Guatemala again one year later, to complete the 3 month advanced meditation course. After that second long travel, it was clear that I will not spend my life in Switzerland.

Two years later, in 2007, I set out with my sister to travel Western Africa in a campervan. We drove through France and Spain, Morocco, Mauretanina, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. In Burkina Faso I volunteered at a school for two months, before selling the car and flying down to South Africa.

I stayed in Cape Town with an old friend for a while, then travelled the Garden Route and ended up volunteering at Wild Spirit Backpackers. That's where I met Aidan ... Aidan was busy packing his car to move to the Wild Coast. He said that he's going to a little village where there is no running water and no electricity, where he would have to build his own house and grow his own food. I said, fabulous, I'm in. So we moved to the Wild Coast and got married on a little hilltop. Living a self-sustainable life in tune with nature, as far away from the cities as possible, was exactly what I had been looking for.

In February 2010, we bought a run down holiday house at the coast and over the course of the last few years, turned it into an eco-friendly backpackers, in close co-operation with the local community."

skiing in Switzerlandriding in Braziltravelling through Morocco
meeting Aidan in South Africakissed by a dogTsitsa Falls, South Africa

"I have always been a classical misfit - I just could not integrate into "normal" society, be employed and work 9 to 5, buy a house and a car and take out a bank loan etc. etc. None of that made sense to me, I found it fake and pointless. Now, I am building my own house with my very own hands, and nothing in my life has ever made so much sense as that. I enjoy the practical, physical work. I love the feel of grass and soil under my feet and don't wear shoes any more. I think people should be able to take their own decisions and look after themselves, without having to be "babysat" by a government. The community of Lubanzi, where we live, is a Xhosa community that still upholds a lot of their traditional ways of co-living, and they make a lot of sense too. Coming from a western society, a welfare state, the difference is shocking. Here, everyone looks after everyone. Nobody goes hungry because the community takes care of every member, young or old, rich or poor. Problems are discussed and resolved in community meetings. Almost every family has a little garden. This place is a literal paradise, in every aspect - unfortunately it faces an uncertain future. Government rules and regulations threaten to stiffle the healthy growth of this community. Politics and policies bind the hands of those who long to create. I will always support those who take their lives and their future into their own hands, and I plead for common sense to prevail over generalized restrictions."

Information about ...

Lubanzi Community

Meet the people behind the scene - our friends, neighbours, employees, affiliates - and find out how they live, what they do, and why.

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The 1km Coastal Conservation Area

In 1992, a 1km wide coastal corridor was declared an environmental sentive area and a proteced zone..

This means that development of any kind is heavily restricted within that corridor and subject to specific environmental laws.

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The Building Plan

In the spirit of recycling we will try to re-use pretty much all the material from the old backpackers.

Anything that's wood can easily be reused in the new buildings, and even the rubble from stone walls can serve a purpose.

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Want to help?

Moving a whole backpackers to a new location is a huge task. We will need all the help we can get!

You can get involved in different ways - either by lending a helping hand or by fundraising for the new backpackers.

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